News from Bordeaux reports that Laurent Dassault has purchased Chateau Faurie de Souchard in Saint Emilion. Faurie de Souchard neighbours Chateaux Dassault and La Fleur which the family have owned respectively since 1955 and 2002). Faurie de Souchard was sold by the Sciard family who had been in possession of the chateau for 80 years. Geoffroy Sciard told Sud Ouest that despite regaining the rank of Grand Cru Classé (after the debacle in 2006 where the chateau was amongst those which were demoted and then promoted again) the decision to sell had been influenced by a difficult market and the severe hail in 2009.
Faurie de Souchard’s origins lie back in 1851 when two plots were sold off from Chateau Soutard, creating Faurie de Souchard and Petit Faurie de Soutard. The name Faurie is taken from Jean Combret de Faurie (1762) who built Chateau Soutard. Faurie was one of the 6 noble families of Saint Emilion and the original vineyard was the scene of a battle during the Hundred Years War. The name Souchard originates from Jean-Baptiste de Souchard who bought what was to become Faurie de Souchard in 1851. The estate spans 34 acres (14 hectares) and the grapes planted are 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The average production is 60,000 bottles per year.
Although the 3 Dassault estates lie in close proximity to each other there are no plans to merge the vineyards as the intention is to keep all 3 as separate entities.
The Dassault Group also owns shares, amounting to 5%, of Saint Emilion First Growth Chateau Cheval Blanc and the Argentinean vineyards Casa Los Dassos and Flechas de los Andes having invested in them in 1998, with Benjamin de Rothschild. In 2001 they signed a ‘joint venture’ with Guillermo Luksic, chairman of Quinenco (one of Chile’s largest business conglomerates that owns Vina San Pedro, the third largest winery in Chile) to create a New World wine called Altair.
The connection with the Rothschilds goes deeper than their joint involvement in Argentina. In 2010 I reported that the Dassault Group made an approach to purchase both Chateau La Croix de Gay and La Fleur de Gay in Pomerol from Dr Alain Raynaud. Nothing appeared to come of it but in 2012 I noticed that during the 2011 En Primeur campaign allocations of Chateau Lafite Rothschild were being offered to some merchants only if they committed to buying Chateaux L’Evangile and Dassault. It seemed an odd combination at the time but thanks to Chris Kissack (Wine Doctor) the link is now explained.
Apparently Alain Raynaud sold his 15 acre (6 hectares) share in the Croix de Gay and Fleur de Gay properties to the Rothschild family, leaving just 9 acres (4 hectares) in the hands of his sister. The 15 acres acquired by the Rothschilds were absorbed into their Pomerol estate Chateau L’Evangile. However it seems that as Dassault was also after the estate the Rothschilds did a deal so that he gained a 5% stake in L’Evangile and Rieussec – which explains the allocation bundling at En Primeur.
The Rothschilds also acted as financial advisers in connection with the sale of Faurie de Souchard.